CENTRAL COAST FISHING
Week of January 22nd
In the Creel: The emphasis remains on winter steelhead angling as most other river fisheries are either closed or rather limp right now. Offshore bottom fishing is good when the ocean settles down; lingcod is red hot. Bay clamming has been okay, but razors remain out of reach below the beaches’ low-tide lines. Crabbing in the bays hasn’t picked up much as recent rain events have kept a lot of freshwater flowing in, chasing the Dungies out to sea. Ocean crabbers are having better luck, but it’s still not great. Remember, before you dig a clam, pull a crab pot, bait a hook or cast a lure, take time to thumb through ODFW’s 2015 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations. There are several bag-limit and season changes this year. Click here for your downloadable copy.
Salmon River: Winter steelhead fishing is starting to pick up in many coastal basins. The Salmon River is open to harvest of wild winter steelhead through March 31st. You’re advised to read the new regulations (see above) as there are harvest restrictions and new deadlines in effect.
Siletz River/Bay: Steelhead fishing is slow to fair but should start to get better in the coming weeks. Fish can be found throughout the river for both bank and boat anglers. River conditions should be good through the weekend.
Yaquina River/Bay: The winter steelhead fishery is fair to good now in the Big Elk, with some nice ones being taken. River conditions should remain in decent shape through the weekend.
Alsea River/Bay: The winter steelhead fishery has been producing fair to good results recently. This week should be best in the middle to lower reaches of the river while flows are low and river temperatures are warming.
Central Coast Lakes: The 2015 stocking schedule for Central Coast lakes is expected to be announced in March and we’ll let you know as soon as it’s available. Fishing for the various warm water fish species can still be productive during the winter months but anglers may need to target different areas of the lakes, typically deeper than when fishing in the spring or summer.
Saltwater angling and shellfish harvesting…
Ocean Fishing, Bay Crabbing and Clamming:
* BOTTOM FISH The ocean is open to bottom fishing at all depths. Deep water lingcod fishing has been great with charters picking up quick limits of real beauties. Even though offshore anglers have been bringing home a lot of lingcod, other species are biting, too, including black rockfish, yellowtail rockfish, and a few blue and other nearshore rockfish. For 2015, the seven-fish marine daily bag limit is still in effect with the following changes: yelloweye rockfish, canary rockfish, quillback rockfish, copper rockfish and china rockfish must be returned to the waters unharmed. You may retain black rockfish, vermillion rockfish, rock greenling, sablefish, yellowtail rockfish and kelp greenling. You may also keep up to three blue rockfish per angler. The lingcod separate bag limit remains two per angler. Cabezon is closed and doesn’t reopen until June 30th when one fish will be allowed per day.
* SALMON Closed.
* HALIBUT Closed. The International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) will set 2015 quotas for all areas by the end of the month; we’ll let you know when they do.
* CRAB Historically, January is one of the best months for crabbing on the Central Coast. However, not this year as both ocean and bay recreational crabbers are continuing to report low catch rates, though offshore seems to be a better bet right now. Major rain events dramatically lower the salinity in some bays and drive crab to lower in the bay or out to the ocean.
* RAZOR CLAMS Razor clamming is still closed from the Oregon/California border to Heceta Head due to elevated levels of amnesic shellfish toxin (ASP) or domoic acid. All other Central Coast beaches remain open for razors. The current minus tide series ends tomorrow, January 23rd. The next minus tides happen on February 2nd and 3rd, but they’re only -0.1’. After that, you’ll have to wait for the February 16th-21st run which begins by occurring in the late afternoon and then advances to well after dark. And they’re not all that low, the lowest being -1.2’. Click 2015 Tide Tables for the entire year’s tables.
* MUSSELS Mussels are open along the entire coast. They’re fairly simple to harvest even in moderately low tides (see Tide Tables above).
* BAY CLAMS Low tides as high as +1.0 to +2.0 feet can still allow clamming opportunities, especially for purple varnish clams that can sometimes be found when the tide is as high as +4.0 feet. There are limited but good bay clamming tides during daylight hours this month, looking best for a few days right now and again during the last week of January (see Tide Tables above). Sport clammers should be able to collect daily limits of cockles, gaper clams and butter clams from the popular sites in Siletz, Yaquina and Alsea Bays. For shellfish regs and identification, go here.
Commercial Fishing: Still quite a few lights out there at night as commercial crabbing continues. While not the effort shown in the early part of the season, a few boats are pulling some nice Dungies but numbers aren’t great. Meanwhile, one reliable source (and a great guy, who once landed the most Chinook that season by himself, per coastwide statistics) saw some Kings near the surface while crabbing. 54F water lately is a good thing. Trollers are getting into Spring mode and annual haulouts are increasing with the Spring-like weather. Values per pound may be in the $10.00 range for the salmon opener. The fleet is optimistic about a good start, but Mother Nature can always be contrary.
Fore-Cast: Pretty danged good fishing weather is on tap over the next week. With the exception of some light rain possible Thursday through Saturday, look for mostly dry conditions with light to moderate winds on and off shore. River and bay fishermen might even be donning tee-shirts for the warm sunshine expected Sunday and Monday, before clouds and cooler temps return midweek. For ocean anglers, variable winds from 5-15 knots are projected throughout the week ahead with no big blows in sight. However, a large, long-period swell of 10-12 feet at 16-18 seconds will affect local waters Friday through Sunday, but subsides as we head into next week. Overall, you probably won’t be able to blame the weather if you come home empty-handed. Always check the latest Bar Reports before you venture offshore.
Notices to Mariners… Cleft of the Rock Light on Cape Perpetua, located in a privately-owned lighthouse, is dark (apparently permanently) and has been deleted from nautical charts and the US Coast Guard’s Light List. Electronic editions of all 2015 Light Lists are available on the USCG Navigation Center’s website here.
Fishin’ with Chris does not come with a warranty but, fortunately, the worst day fishing is still better than the best day working. Information is supplied by the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, NOAA, and local fishermen. So… don’t blame me!
– Chris Burns